Embedding – Competencies

If an innovation is proven to be valuable after the Experimentation Phase, the Business Owner, the Innovator and the CIB Ambassador team up to scale the innovation and eventually embed the innovation into the existing organization. One of the key elements of embedding an innovation into the organization is to change the organization’s competencies to meet the innovation’s requirements.


Innovations are as impactful as the people who work with them. Without competency, innovations are mere technology or processes. Competencies, peoples skills and experience, are pivotal to the successful embedding of an innovation. In fact, in the minds of most people, an innovation will only be regarded as ’embedded’ when the competencies have become ‘business-as-usual’. The type of change may vary.

  1. Add additional competencies to current competencies
  2. Unlearn competencies and learn new competencies
  3. Insource competencies
  4. Partner with third parties

Ad 1. Add Additional Competencies to Current Competencies

In certain cases, an innovation triggers new competencies that haven’t been required before. In most of the cases, this is due to the usage of new technologies and other recent innovations. For example, if a drone is used in the same process to enrich analyses, the current competencies need to be updated and people must learn an additional competency in order to be able to execute the new process.

Ad 2. Unlearn Competencies and Learn New Competencies

If an innovation allows to completely redesign and reallocate the process, the current competencies are probably obsolete. In that case, people need unlearn their competencies and learn new competencies. For example, if an analysis that is formerly done in Excel is replaced with a SaaS solution, the skills to execute the new process needs to be adapted. People need to unlearn to do analysis in Excel (not the Excel skills per se) and learn to use the new SaaS solution. That requires not only how to use the SaaS solution, but also a new learning curve in terms of reduced errors over time.

Ad 3. Insource Competencies

In cases where innovations trigger a competency gap, organizations probably favor insourcing competencies over (un)learning new competencies by their current staff. For example, if an analysis is formerly done in Excel and the innovation requires people to work with machine learning to analyze a 1000 times more data, then the competency gap is too big for the current people to overcome with learning new competencies in an appropriate timeframe. In some cases, the required new competencies might not be possible to learn with the current people at all. In those cases, organizations may consider insourcing competencies to get the right competencies in a short timeframe. The more specific and specialized a new competency is, the more it creates a case for insourcing competencies. Buying a start-up that fulfills this need may be an option in this stadium.

Ad 4. Partner with Third Parties

The last option to overcome the new required competencies due to a successful innovation is to engage in a partnership with a third party. It’s closely related to insourcing competencies but a partnership differs in the sense there’s a mutual benefit to grow both parties. Engaging in a partnership with a third party is a specific element in embedding a new innovation.